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Public and Global Health Sciences MSci - Intercalated Degree

Start date
September / October annually depending on published term dates
1 Year Full Time
Course Type
Undergraduate, Intercalated

This programme provides the opportunity to acquire specialist training and undertake a significant piece of public health, global health or population science research. A key feature of this programme is the opportunity to spend over 4 months of the year completing research in an area which interests you.

For 2023/24 the Public Health and Population Sciences (PHPS) BMedSci intercalated programme has changed to become an undergraduate (120 credits) Masters programme named MSci Public and Global Health Sciences (PGHS).


As a medical or dentistry student, you may choose to take a year out from your medical course and study on one of our intercalated Medical Science degree programmes. During this year you will specialise in a particular subject, acquire skills in analysing and interpreting research papers and also gain substantial, direct experience of novel research.

On completion of the programme students should have knowledge and understanding of:

  • Commonly used research methods and data analysis techniques within health and medicine
  • How research methods are applied to inform the health of the population (epidemiology) and the management of public health issues at local, national and global levels
  • An understanding of the practicalities of conducting research in a range of settings
  • The legal and ethical frameworks of medical research

In addition to enhancing knowledge and understanding we believe our teaching methods, with emphasis on feedback and easy access to support, strongly promote development of the following skills and attributes:

  • The ability to critically read and appraise research evidence
  • The ability to produce scientifically valid research
  • The ability to manage a research project from conception to completion with enhanced project management skills which will be transferable to other aspects of education and training
  • The ability to effectively communicate ideas or scientific findings through a range of commonly used presentation mechanisms including oral presentation, poster presentation, production of a journal article and essay writing.
  • Enhanced independent learning skills
  • Greater awareness of team working and skills to support this in clinical and academic settings
  • Improved ability to think logically and broadly about a range of problems, drawing on a variety of disciplines to support arguments 

You will receive specialist training and training in research methods (both theoretical and applied) in semester one. The project will be devised in semester one and data collection, analysis and write-up completed in semester two. All students will have a nominated academic supervisor to support their research activity and will have access to research and statistics support through our research clinics system.

Student testimonials

  • 'Everybody was friendly and passionate about their lectures'
  • 'Good opportunity to do research in an area of your choice'
  • 'Research progress meetings for Public Health students were good'
  • ‘Research supervision was excellent’
  • 'Excellent mixture of lectures, especially for Public Health students'
  • ‘The small size of the cohort meant it was a very friendly learning environment’


The programme comprised four compulsory modules. These are as follows:

Fundamental of Public Health and Health Improvement. (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to introduce students to core concepts and principles which underpin public health as it is practised today in the UK and more globally. Public Health is a population-based speciality devoted to promoting and protecting health and well-being, preventing ill-health and prolonging life, through the organised efforts of society.It consists of three main areas of activity: health improvement, health service quality and health protection. This module will introduce the common principles which underpin all three areas of practice, and then focus on teaching key concepts and approaches to health improvement activities.  The module will build on the core knowledge from pre-existing undergraduate training, to expose students to the concepts and approaches used in modern-day public health research and practice. Learning will be developed primarily through interactive lectures and expert-led (practitioner, researcher) seminars supported by different forms of enquiry-based and self-directed activities. Students will be expected to undertake preparatory work in relation to each session.  

Health Protection and Health Care Public Health (20 credits)

This module focuses the role of public health in shaping health and social care services, and health protection.  Students will be introduced to the principles of health and social care delivery, noting the role of the public health practitioner in using evidence-based approaches to plan, implement and evaluate the delivery of service provision for designated populations. The importance of public involvement will be emphasised. The role of  Public Health in protecting the population health will also be considered, noting the need to manage specific biological, chemical and other environmental threats to health.  The module will consist of small group teaching enabling students to discuss and explore further materials introduced in pre-session preparatory, independent learning activities.  Practice-based seminars delivered by practitioners working in local public health settings and by academics leading major global health research programmes will be used to illustrate the applicability of theoretical learning.  

Health Research Methods (20 credits)

This module aims to provide students with a grounding in the range of study designs and research methods that are commonly used in health research. The contents of the module will help students to enhance their current knowledge and understanding of the health research methods that are available to address the variety of relevant research questions. In addition to in-depth learning focused on qualitative research methods and further learning in statistical analysis, the module also covers quantitative and qualitative systematic reviews; survey research; the availability and analysis of routine health datasets; and further issues in trial design. The module will combine both theoretical and practical methods learning and will complement further sessions focused upon broader research skills relevant to developing research projects, including research ethics.  Whilst the module will provide knowledge and understanding relevant to individual research projects, it is also designed to provide broad-based research knowledge which will support future research involvement and allow students to critically appraise research findings of relevance to their clinical work

Research Project (60 credits)

This module aims to equip students with the skills needed to develop and conduct a piece of research in the field of population sciences that has the potential for publication within a relevant journal. Students will experience data collection, management, and analysis, prior to writing up in the form of an academic paper or dissertation. Students will have the option to identify a project from a list of feasible and appropriate projects generated by Academic Staff.  They will (wherever possible) be allocated one of their project preferences and will work with a supervisor (or supervisors) during Semester 1 to further develop a research protocol for the project to be carried out in Semester 2.  The module is delivered across both Semester 1 and Semester 2.  There will be group contact time and teaching in  Semester 1, which will involve lectures and methodological seminars where students will meet to discuss project ideas and development. In Semester 2 students will work under close supervision to conduct their research project.  Students will have tutorials with their supervisor on a regular basis and these will identify problems with data collection, monitor progress and support data management and delivery, enabling the student to fully engage with the research process from initial development of ideas to completion. Students will also have access to statistics and research skills clinics throughout both semesters to supplement supervision.


Standard Fees Apply

All students are entitled to reclaim up to £500 project expenses for conduction of their research. Claims must be accompanied by original receipts. Further to this students who incur travel costs are eligible to apply for an Arthur Thomson Travel Award (up to £500). Applications for these awards will be considered at the end of the programme of study and are not guaranteed. These sources of funding are available to all students irrespective of their primary University of study.

Internal bursaries

All students who are registered on the MBChB or Dental Programmes at the University of Birmingham are eligible to apply for a bursary to support them during their period of study. The intention to apply should be indicated on the application form and students expressing an intention will receive further information. Bursaries are currently set at £3,000 and are limited. Students with an overall mean mark of <65% in year 2 of their programme of study are unlikely to be awarded a bursary.

Our funding sources mean that we are unable to offer bursaries to students from outside of Birmingham.

External bursaries

The College usually receives an invitation each year from the Royal College of Physicians to submit a limited number of applications for their Wolfson intercalated programme. The deadline for this is usually the end of March which means the programme needs to shortlist by mid-March. Bursaries are up to £5000 and are nationally competitive. Our students have a very good record in securing such awards. Any student interested in applying needs to contact the PoSH Administration team by the 31st of January in the year in which they plan to apply.

Eligible students should:

  • Demonstrate a consistent and outstanding academic track record (an overall mean mark >70% in year 2 and consistently high marks in other years). N.B. Because of the need to show consistent academic achievement it is expected that students will be in year 3 or 4 at the time of application. A second year applicant who can demonstrate excellence may be considered but should contact the admissions tutor at the earliest opportunity to discuss this).
  • Be applying for MSci Public and Global Health Sciences programme. As this bursary relates to science projects students on humanities programmes (Health Management and Leadership, or History of Medicine) should not apply, but should make contact with the relevant programme lead to enquire whether there are any discipline specific bursaries currently available nationally.
  • Have a research focus or area of interest (Support will be given during February to develop this into an application).
  • Be prepared to work on their application (including designing a research project) during February and early March. 

All eligible students who express an interest will have the opportunity to meet with the Admissions Tutor to discuss the application and receive guidance in drafting an application. Further to this there will be the opportunity to submit one draft application by the 28th February for comment. All students will then be required to submit their application by the specified deadline (varies annually but likely to be mid-March). Students will be informed if their application has been selected for submission to the Royal College within 2 weeks. Any student submitted will receive an early and unconditional place on the programme. Unsuccessful applicants will be able to use their work in their application for an internal bursary.

How To Apply

Applications have now closed for September 2024 entry.

Applications for this programme will be accepted from students wishing to intercalate after year 3 or 4 of their medical studies, or year 2 for Dental students. Students must have obtained >60% in the second year of MBChB or BDS to be eligible. Applicants will be ranked on their year 2 mark and on their answers to the questions on the application form. 

Please note: students who have failed to achieve 60% may still apply, but are required to demonstrate a significant upward academic trajectory or excellence in specific areas related to the proposed intercalation. 

Applications From Students Not Currently Registered at Birmingham

We are happy to consider applications for any of the programmes within the Population Sciences and Humanities subjects from students from other institutions. We have a strong track record over recent years in supporting these students and facilitating integration into their new institution.

Applications from students from other universities should be made on our standard application form| and must be accompanied by a transcript of marks from your current institution. Should an offer of a place be made to you further admission forms will be sent from the University via our Course Administrator.

We are always happy to discuss our programmes with students from other universities. If you have any queries or wish to discuss the opportunities available to you in Birmingham please contact the PoSH Administration team.

As a Birmingham student you will learn from world-leading experts. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Support and Supervision

Each student will have an academic supervisor to oversee their research activity. The Programme Leads, Professor Jayne Parry, Dr Laura Jones and Dr Derek Ward, will offer support and guidance for all aspects of the course. You will also have access to academic skills, research and statistics clinics to  give you the opportunity to discuss specific issues with a relevant academic. 

Past projects

Below are some example projects offered to and/or undertaken by students on the public health programme during the past 2 years:

  • Public health approaches to crime reduction and/or prevention (especially gang crime but other areas considered)
  • The use of complementary medicine for long COVID
  • Clinician perspectives on cell and gene therapies
  • Contextual applicants and UK medical school admissions processes
  • Should lifetime risk reduction replace absolute risk reduction when lipid lowering therapy is considered for primary prevention of CVD?
  • Motivations and barriers for sustainable school travel behaviour
  • The involvement of community members and other stakeholders groups in injury research and implementation of findings in High and Low/Medium Income Country settings
  • Acceptability of caesarean section related interventions through qualitative reviews with a specific focus on Low/Medium Income Country settings.
  • The historical legacies of sexual-health inequalities among communities of Black African and Caribbean heritage
  • Women’s and healthcare professionals’ experiences of interpreter services in maternity care settings: a systematic review and qualitative evidence synthesis
  • Remote outpatient consultations in secondary and tertiary care: qualitative review of inequalities in access and uptake from the perspective of healthcare professionals
  • Reporting of indicators of inequality and disadvantage in public health research
  • How effective are continuous glucose monitoring devices in type 1 diabetes?
  • Microplastics and health effects: A systematic review
  • Do patients with COPD who have a comorbid mental health condition have increased risk of worse health-related outcomes
  • Anti-vax movements on social media: A qualitative content analysis
  • Women’s Experiences of Psychosis: Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews
  • Formative research findings from 16 communities in Pakistan.
  • Dietary diversity and meal frequency of children involved in a randomised cluster controlled trial in Mali
  • Slum health and wellbeing
  • Exploring the association between illicit drug use and cardiovascular disease: a retrospective cohort study
  • Key pregnancy outcomes during Mongolia’s prompt COVID-19 lockdown

Assessment Methods

You’ll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of written work (for example essays, briefing notes, evidence summaries and lay summaries of research in Plain English) and individual presentations.  All assessments are in-course assessment; there are no formal examinations on this programme. At the beginning of each module, you’ll be given information on how and when you’ll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You’ll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. If you should fail an assessment we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future, and to support you in a second attempt at the assessment.

Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.

Our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV’s and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

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